Friday, July 16, 2010

Forgetting to Give

We all experience grief when we see the visuals on television of a catastrophic event someplace in the world. It could be the eruption of a volcano, a tsunami, an earthquake, a hurricane or a flood. We still remember the pictures of Haiti from January of this year, and rightfully so!

It will take a long time for any type of normalization to be established. The majority of humans will immediately try to give what they can to alleviate the suffering and pain of the effected population. What always has a great impact are those pictures of suffering infants and children.

Seeing the outpouring of donations always makes me feel good knowing there are people who still care about others. At the same time I would like to remind all my friendship network not to forget the suffering and pain close by – right here in your back yard.

It’s not visually available on a television screen. So, when I write to you about the “unmet needs”, when I write to you about a mother sitting for weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or when there is a husband, wife or family members in need of lodging and food while awaiting the outcome of their loved one at UVA Medical Center, or a patient coming for treatment from a long distance but with no place to sleep and nothing to eat, I can only hope that you can visualize this yourself within your heart and minds.

I know television advertisements are very powerful, but we can only utilize the printed media to convey the suffering, agony, pain right here in our back yards. It’s a BIG BACK YARD – it’s West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, DC and right here in Virginia.

The patients come from all these areas, and so do the unmet needs with them. The need for food in the freezers at the hospital has increased. The need for lodging and accommodations is increasing consistently as well as co-pays and subsistence for medical co-pays and transportation. These needs for funding are rising monthly.

Please remember we are a non-paid staff. We don’t have a fancy office. Every dollar donated is being allocated back to the charity and these needs. There are no fancy advertisements or pictures in your mailbox. Wade, Sam and I are still the largest contributors to the charity. So far, we have not had to turn anyone down or say , “No!” to any request, BUT it is getting very hard. And, I am worried about the future to be able to meet these unmet needs!

Is it possible next time you receive a IHS blog describing one of these cases, you visualize this case in your minds as vividly as sharply as any television plea or advertisement would be? We are not taking care of the whole world. We are not expanding with office space and overhead into other areas.

We just want to take care of the true needs RIGHT HERE … of those who are in need of help here in our own back yard coming from such long distances!

Allow me to mention a few real life cases this past week. Please understand the sensitivity issue for hospital patients and their privacy, although the chances of a patient ever reading this blog is slim. Remember – we are not known to patients and families 99% of the time. They only know that a social worker is assisting them to secure assistance.

Call from social worker X: “Can you assist with two nights in Hospitality House(HH) for patient Y? She’s here for an ovarian cancer appointment. She has Medicaid but the kind that she has doesn’t pay for HH. She and her family driver can stay in one room together.” Note: This patient cannot even afford the $10 per night rate for hospitality house. Room is secured.

Call from social worker T: Alert e-mail: “We are extremely low on meals this week. Can we meet Thursday? We had a high turnover of patients over the past few days (July 4th weekend). Families are very appreciative and this still continues to serve many areas of the hospital past the pediatric floors as my other social work colleagues are aware they can access the meals by paging me. We are down to about 5 meals on PICU, 7 on 7 west, and 7 on central. Thanks so much.” Note: We make contact with Teresa Bevins or associate every two weeks and shop and deliver within hours of an alert of low supplies (frozen dinners for at least three freezers).

Call from social worker K: “Indigent patient, stays in a home in southern Virginia, came up for an appointment on a one-way bus ticket that someone bought for him. Stayed last night in hospitality house (HH) (which he has no money for) and today missed his appointment because he couldn’t read the appointment slip. Has to stay over another night. No bus ticket home, and needs one more night in HH. Can you assist?” Note Response: If transportation fund in social work is low, we will reimburse for ticket home. Both nights in HH covered.

Call from social worker V: “Patient being treated for lung cancer coming from 5 hours away in Palliative Care Clinic. Has chronic pain. Return in same day very problematic, 10 hours on road. Not enough funds to balance a night here. Hospitality House (HH) full. Can you manage one night for her and her family driver in a hotel?” Note Response: Yes, here is her reservation number. Ask if she has enough money for food while in hospital. Access to freezer for sign-out is available through you.

T. Wade tells a story of his Mother’s admonition when he was a boy in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She would ask him almost every day, “Wade, have you checked on Miss Cora?” Miss Cora was the elderly woman just down the street. Wade’s Mother (Grace Wells McCullough Clegg) had a list of people in her mind that she called, visited and delivered hot meals. Grace was the ultimate example of caring for others with special needs. Watching out for Miss Cora is very much at the core of this charity’s existence.

There has never been a dedicated charity which responds with such immediacy to back up the UVA social workers seeking to serve so many clients coming to this major medical center. We are seeking diligently to maintain that posture for temporary assistance as their final safety net.

Will you help us out now by clicking below and reaching into your hearts?